The 6th of Aprilhas been declared by the UN General Assembly in 2013 as the International Dayof Sport for Development and Peace, to acknowledge the contribution of sporttowards development across borders. Thisyear the day is celebrated as the 2nd International Day of Sport forDevelopment and Peace.

Many internationalorganisations like UNESCO, Commonwealth, International OlympicsCommittee (IOC) and FIFA have endorsedthe day; as sport is universal, it can nurture peace, tolerance and equalityamongst all the people - regardless of their race, religion, gender or economicdivisions.

 The sport also develops a sensefor teamwork, discipline and respect for the opponents – it is an area of lifewhere you do not have to be privileged to achieve something.

As early as 1922, the IOCand the UN International Labour Organisation established a cooperation to raisethe profile of sport, and use it to create a better world.  The current IOC President Thomas Bach, visited the Municipal Fencing Club in Rio de Janeiro, thehost city of the 2016 Olympic Games, ahead of the 2nd InternationalDay of Sport for Development and Peace; Bach, the former fencer - the 1976Olympics gold medalist and former world champion, spoke to young fencersfrom a fencing project for underprivileged children and emphasized theuniversality of sport.

This is just one of many similar projects run by variousNGOs and other organisations across the world.

Football’s world governingbody FIFA recognises the power of sport, in particular football, as it isplayed in the most difficult countries in Africa or Asia. The football organisation commemorates thisday with several initiatives, one of them being a “Handshake for Peace”, whichwas jointly launched by FIFA and the Nobel Peace Center.

The campaign involves a simple handshake beforeand after the games, which symbolises friendship, respect and fairness.

My firsthandexperience on the universality of sport came eight years ago when I went to asmall Central Asian country Tajikistan; I had hardly heard of the countrybefore, and, while there, I visited some remote villages, completely isolatedfrom the outside world. However, I spentthe warm summer evenings playing football with the locals, some barefooted, withoutspeaking a word of their language.

The game broke down walls and barriers, and Iwill remember the experience to this day.

Let us all reflecttoday on the strength that sport brings to the world.

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